James Clemens cheerleaders honor Vietnam vets at Welcome Home With Honor
MADISON — They weren’t born when this chapter in America history was written, but these Madison teenagers still honored the heroes.
James Clemens High School cheerleaders rallied for the third annual North Alabama Welcome Home With Honor.
The Vietnam Veterans Day was held at the Huntsville/Madison County Veterans Memorial in Huntsville. Jets cheerleaders spent their last Saturday of spring break on March 29 — in the rain — assisting organizers and greeting, seating and distributing programs to veterans.
Cheerleaders who participated are juniors Abbie Johnson, Kaylan Hampton and Sutton Parker; sophomores Sydney Turner and Jada Bates; and freshmen Savannah Taylor, Gracie Bennett, Niya Godine and Anna Lee Ruble.
Godine’s father is in active military deployment. Several girls have parents or grandparents who are veterans. At the event, veterans were a bit surprised but very appreciative of the cheerleaders’ support and attention.
“The girls know of the Vietnam War and (many) Americans didn’t want to be involved in the war. That’s why soldiers were mistreated when they returned home,” Turner said. The cheerleaders appreciated a Vietnam era history lesson from retired Sgt. Major John Perry.
“The national champion James Clemens competition cheerleaders believe being a leader in school and community is important,” Melanie Turner said. Turner is math department lead, Mu Alpha Theta sponsor and SGA executive co-sponsor.
James Clemens cheerleaders dedicate many hours to community service and volunteering at Madison Hospital and elementary schools, along with their hours of practice, leading pep rallies and cheering for football teams.
“The focus of this year’s community service is veterans,” Turner said. “They realize there’s no nobler cause than supporting our veterans.”
Keynote speaker State Sen. Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison) summarized the veterans’ legacy. “You, a Vietnam veteran, taught me … to always keep your guard up … battles should be fought with boots on the ground, not by politicians thousands of miles away … leave no one behind.”
“You didn’t just teach ME these things. Vietnam veterans today are teaching generations like me these lessons,” Holtzclaw said.